Doctor Walks Across the U.S to Raise Awareness of Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety

Dr. Dave Mayer, CEO of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation and executive director of the MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety, has reached Jacksonville Beach, Fla. concluding a 2,452-mile virtual walk from San Diego. As a lifelong advocate of patient safety and supporter of the foundation’s mission to achieve zero preventable patient deaths by 2030, Dave’s Virtual Walk Across America for Healthcare Safety began in February 2020 to raise awareness of the importance of healthcare worker and patient safety during the pandemic and to honor those on the front lines. 

Dr. Mayer, an avid Chicago Cubs baseball fan, kicked off his walk early February 2020. His first walk was to Petco Park stadium in San Diego and the original plan was to continue walking to all major league stadiums. However, the COVID-19 pandemic’s quarantine and travel restrictions required him to turn the walk into a virtual event covering 2,452 miles over 350 consecutive days – the distance from coast to coast following the Bike Across America route. When possible, he continued to travel from city to city to hit all the major league ballparks, visiting over 20 stadiums, 12 spring training ballparks, three minor league stadiums and seven NFL stadiums and was joined along the way by families who lost loved ones due to preventable harm. Dave’s Walk Across America inspired nearly 1,000 individuals to join the movement and log over 134K miles walking, running and biking in support of safer care. 

“As a retired clinical physician, I felt helpless at the beginning of the pandemic and wanted to do something to show my support for my colleagues on the front line who were putting their lives at risk every day,” stated Dr. Mayer. “Through this walk I was able to recognize and remember front line workers and individuals whose lives have been negatively impacted by a preventable medical error by leaving a stone at each major league baseball stadium I visited in their honor.”  

Every year, more than 200,000 people die in U.S. hospitals from what are considered preventable medical deaths. These preventable medical errors are a result of systemic problems in healthcare – not health workers themselves. Many of the problems – from burnout, to lack of transparency and safe processes – are not just preventable but continuously set health workers up for failure and error. Even more light has been shed on these issues as healthcare workers have been overwhelmed with COVID-19. In fact, over 3,000 healthcare workers have lost their lives due to the infection while trying to take care of their patients and the community. 

“This walk was not about my personal feat, but about having a platform to recognize and remember all of the healthcare workers and patients who have been impacted by a preventable medical error,” said Mayer. “We will never be able to reverse harm done or lives lost, but we can do much more to prevent these medical errors in the future. If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that we can’t have patient safety without healthcare worker safety. While I have concluded this part of the journey, it is not the end and I will continue to bring light to this cause until we reach zero preventable patient deaths.” 

To see the full journey and stay up-to-date on Dr. Mayer’s walk as he visits the remaining 10 major league stadiums, follow on Twitter @WalkForPtSafety and Instagram walkforptsafety. To learn more about the patients he walked for visit: https://patient.sm/Daveswalk. To support the Patient Safety Movement Foundation’s efforts, donate here: https://patient.sm/PR-Donate.